Food & Drink

BUNGALOW KITCHEN: Try bhindi masala, an Indian take on summer okra and tomatoes classic

In summer, nothing is better than a fresh tomato. We eat them with everything and even eat them alone on plain white bread. When they are at their peak, we rightly try to eat as many tomatoes as we possibly can.

One classic application of tomatoes is to stew them in a big pot with one of summer’s other treats, fresh okra. Together, they are a sweet, fresh side dish for just about anything. (It is a staple at the meat and threes that pepper the Southern landscape.)

Often, you’ll see this treat served with rice in a nod to Asian influence on Southern cuisine. Let’s take that one step further and use Indian curry spices to bring exotic flavors to delicious local ingredients.

This dish, Bhindi Masala, can be a main dish or a side dish -- and it shines as both. If used as a main, it should be served over basmati rice. As a side, it can be paired with pork or lamb chops.

While this is the stovetop recipe, the same recipe can be used on a charcoal grill in a grill pan to add another layer of flavor. As with all Indian dishes, the spice level is adjustable, so you can add more heat with more cayenne and red pepper or take it out and add extra cumin and coriander for a sweeter dish. It is all up to you, but no matter what, you will have the taste of take-out at home in no time!

Alex and Eleta Morrison live in Macon and write a food blog, Bungalow Kitchen. Visit their blog at bungalowkitchen.wordpress.com or contact them at bungalowkitchenmacon@gmail.com.

BUNGALOW KITCHEN RECIPE

Bhindi Masala

1 pound okra, stems removed, chopped into thirds

3 medium ripe tomatoes, medium diced

1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons butter

5 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon red pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Start by making the spice mix. Press the garlic and place in the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Add the spices to the bowl and mix until all the garlic is incorporated and the mix forms a thick paste. Set aside.

Heat a large pan to medium-high heat. Melt butter and add onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook about five minutes until they soften.

Add the spice paste and stir, cooking another minute. Add the okra and tomatoes and stir until all the okra is coated in the spices.

Cook five minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover, cooking another 15-20 minutes (until the okra is tender), stirring occasionally.

To serve as a main, serve over basmati rice. Dish can be used as a side, pairing well with pork or lamb.

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